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Women are drivers in job creation, survey finds

WOMEN are drivers in job creation, the first South African Women Entrepreneurs Job Creation Survey has found.

The report offers insights into the role that women entrepreneurs play as job creators and suggests most see job creation as a key responsibility.

Despite the challenges and setbacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the survey reveals “green shoots” of optimism in terms of future job creation, with most of the respondents positive they will recover over the next year or two.

The survey was undertaken by Lionesses of Africa, a network of women entrepreneurs across the continent, together with New York University, and supported by Absa.

The South African Women Entrepreneurs Job Creators Survey data was collected online from 913 women entrepreneurs in South Africa between November 23, 2020, and April 28, 2021, and informed by a further 150 qualitative interviews of women entrepreneurs during the same period, according to a media release.

Participants were recruited through the Lionesses of Africa network, and represented a wide range of business types, sizes and sectors.

Respondents were asked about their experiences with job creation and accessing government and other assistance, how the pandemic had affected them, as well as their outlook for the future.

The employing women entrepreneurs who participated had, on average, 29 employees, and in most cases hired their first employee early in the life of their business – two thirds within the first year – suggesting they were creating jobs early in their company’s life cycle.

In terms of future hiring plans, over a third who hired staff consider current staffing levels inadequate for their future needs, with most reporting they were hiring or considering hiring to help meet demand or bring additional skills into their businesses.

When it comes to solo entrepreneurs or women entrepreneurs in non-employing partnerships, most reported that they hire or work with other self-employed freelancers or independent contractors, including other women.

Lionesses of Africa founder, Melanie Hawken, said the self-belief among women entrepreneurs about their ability to create jobs was encouraging.

“Another stand-out finding from the report was how these women fought to protect jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than two-thirds either stopped paying themselves or reduced their own salaries in order to look after their staff first,” she said.

Bongiwe Gangeni, deputy chief executive of Absa Retail and Business Bank, said the Job Creators Survey highlights the significant role women entrepreneurs play to create jobs and support the economy.

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